I own a Google Home and wonder what works with what. Zigbee, Z-Wave, IFTTT, What? All these terminologies can get really confusing.
Is Google Home Compatible with Zigbee? Google Home is not directly compatible with the Zigbee protocol. There are workarounds to get Google Home to work with Zigbee devices by using a device in between them like a Hub.
Google Home communicates to devices by WiFi. This means that any smart devices like the WeMo smart plug that are connected to your WiFi can talk to your Google Home. No middle man needed.
However, specific brands like Philips Hue use the Zigbee protocol to communicate. Google Home does not speak Zigbee lingo so you need a middle man, like their Hue Bridge or SmartThings hub.
What exactly can Google home do on its own? What about the “Google Home Hub”? How exactly does a Hub work and will you need one?
Stick around, we’ll clarify everything friend.
How Google Home Can Work with Zigbee Devices
We covered that Google Home is not directly compatible with Zigbee devices, but indirectly they can communicate with a middle man AKA a Hub.
First, we should cover the different ways devices can communicate:
These are the 4 most common protocols or languages smart devices use to communicate to each other.
Let’s list some smart devices and the way they communicate. In this scenario, can all the devices communicate?
- WeMo Smart Plug – WiFi
- Smart Phone – WiFi/Bluetooth
- Router – WiFi
- Philips Hue Bulb – Zigbee
Do you see the problem?
Philips Hue Bulb doesn’t have a translator in this example. Thankfully, Philips Hue has their own bridge which “bridges” this gap so it can communicate to your router/phone and with their bulbs, but it’s expensive. Best to just get the starter pack with the Bridge included.
The better alternative is just to grab a cheaper alternative and get a SmartThings 3 Hub that is Internet/WiFi, Zigbee, and Z-wave compatible too. Just my 2 cents though.
Here’s an example where a hub would bridge the gap:
- WeMo Smart Plug – WiFI
- Smart Phone – WiFI/Bluetooth
- Router – WiFi
- SmartThings Hub – WiFI/Zigbee/Z-Wave
- (Or Philips Hue Bridge – WiFi/Zigbee)
- Philips Hue Bulb – Zigbee
Your phone can talk to your Philips Hue Bulb now. Hopefully these examples make sense to you. At first, all of this was really confusing to me too. I’m no expert so let me know if I sound crazy or I missed something.
I want to note though that just because you don’t have a hub doesn’t mean you necessarily need one. Google and Alexa have really made it amazing with how many devices are Google and Alexa compatible. You’ll see it plastered on most common device packaging with their logo:
- “Works with Alexa”
- “Works with Google Assistant”
The chances are, if you only need to communicate (via WiFi) to smart plugs and bulbs, you’ll be fine without a hub. The best way to make sure if to look up the brand product specifications and read the details on how they communicate.
One thing to keep in mind though is that you can easily clog up your router with it being connected to 8 smart bulbs individually. This is where a hub comes in handy because it can efficiently manage all 8 bulbs through 1 single connection.
What Google Home Can Do on Its Own
Don’t go running to buy a Hub quite yet. Google Home can hold its own ground.
Google Home and Google Home Mini Capabilities:
- Responds to voice controls
- Access to smartphone apps
- Setting reminders, calendar events, checking the weather
- Playing music
- Controlling other smart devices
The Google Home Smart Speaker and Google Home Mini devices do not require a hub to be able to control devices in the home and provide the user with voice assistant features.
Here are some examples:
- TP-Link Smart Plug
- LIFX Bulbs
- Nest Thermostat
- Belkin WeMo Switch
- Samsung SmartThings Hub
- Canary Indoor Monitoring Camera
These devices respond well to vocal commands in a conversational manner and can return answers to questions as well as complete tasks such as setting reminders and checking the weather.
Should You Get a Hub?
Do You Need a Hub for Google Home?
It depends on what you want it to work with.
As we said earlier, Google (and Alexa) already work with a ton of devices. Products are making them Google and Alexa friendly to attract more customers. They are buzz words that people are familiar with.
Do you have any products from this list of compatible devices with SmartThings hub?
- Ring Video Doorbell
- Ecobee Thermostat
- and more
If you do want that compatibility or want devices that only speak a certain protocol like Zigbee or Z-wave, it may worth investing in one.
What Can the Google Home Hub Do?
What about the Google Home Hub? Well, it’s in fact, not really a hub at all. Technically, it qualifies as a hub. So we’ll call it a ‘Basic’ hub.
A hub is a device that connects multiple devices to one another. For example, it can connect a printer and a laptop or two computers to one another without physically connecting them with a cable. Hubs are an effective way to share information and resources.
Along with the smart speaker that acts as a smart hub, Google offers a specific product for the purpose of centralizing device controls called the Google Home Hub. It allows the user to access and control the linked devices from one smartphone app.
Google Home Hub Features:
- Get step by step instructions
- Update calendar and reminders
- Display photos
- Control household devices (lights, locks, etc.)
- Located devices that are connected to Google Home
- Organize appliances and devices by room
- Parental Controls
Contrary to the average Google Home smart speaker, the Google Home Hub offers a variety of unique features right at your fingertips. Instead of a compacted, circular device, the Hub is a rectangular screen with a user-friendly display of controls.
So Why Is Google Home Hub so Basic?
Well, it can’t speak Zigbee or Z-wave at all. You still need the Hue Bridge, for example, to speak to your Philips Hue bulb. The only thing it lets you do it access those smart devices and control it centrally, from the Google Home Hub.
You still can’t get it to talk with your Ring video doorbell without a hub.
How To Set Up a Google Home Hub
If you happen to still pick up a Google Home for its digital photo album or other features, we got you covered.
Set Up Instructions:
- Find a place for the device
- Download the Google Home app on mobile
- Plug in your Google Home Hub
- Select add a new device from Google Hub
- Connect your device
- Set preferences (location, password, voice controls)
The first thing you will need to do before setting up your Google Home Hub is deciding where you will place it in your home. The area you choose should be where the device will be used the most. Some of the best places to set it up are the kitchen, bedroom, and home office.
Next, you will need to download the Google Home app. This app is a free download and is available for both Android and iOS devices. You will not be able to effectively set up your Hub without this software.
Once the app has been successfully downloaded, it will give you a brief tutorial that will walk you through the steps of set-up. This will include plugging your Google Home device into a power source and connecting it to your home Wi-Fi network.
From the app on the Google Home Hub screen, you will select Add, then Set Up New Devices In Your Home. The app will then automatically scan the area for available devices and you will then choose the correct one.
The next few steps will include setting up a variety of preferences, from where the Google Home Hub will be located in the house to the administrative password and voice match preferences.
The voice matching feature will allow you to set up one or multiple voice profiles on the same Hub that will help the device to learn each individual and create customized reactions to their commands.
For example, if one person asks Google Hub what they have on their schedule this morning at nine o’clock, the personalized answer they receive will be different than if another person asks the exact same question.
Can Google Home Hub always recognize multiple different voices?
Yes. The Google Home Hub can recognize multiple different voices, and provide personalized responses to each individual. However, while using this feature, you should always be aware that the voice recognition system is not flawless, and it is not hard for the Google Home to mistake somebody else’s voice for your own.
Can you make calls between Google Home devices?
The Google Home technology allows the user to call anyone that is listed in their contacts, regardless of the device they use. However, it is important to understand that Google makes calls to actual phones instead of the Google Home device itself, so there is no way to initiate a call between two Google Home products.
What other devices are compatible to use with the Google Home Hub?
The Google Home Hub can interact with and control Amazon Alexa, Apple, Nest, Philips Hue, and Samsung products and appliances. In addition, the technology can be used in accordance with Belkin WeMo, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink. Google Home can be used in harmony with close to any smart home device in existence.
Is Google Home compatible with Z-Wave?
No, Google Home is not compatible with Z-wave devices, but you can use Hubs to communicate with it.